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FIFPro has launched the ‘Mind the Gap’ project to help professional footballers transition to a new career.

The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

When they stop playing, life can be tough for footballers. Suddenly, sometimes without warning, a gap opens in their lives: there might be a drop in income, loss of confidence and a move away from a support group of teammates and club staff.

'Mind the Gap' will support national players associations in preparing footballers for this moment.

Often footballers will have neglected their education and focus their energy on reaching the elite level of their sport.

They tend to have fewer educational qualifications and less relevant work experience than their competitors in the employment market. Only 13% of active professional male football players in Europe have further education – compared to about 53% of the male population in the EU.

GER Educational attainment per region 640

Source: 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report

In women’s football, players are more prepared for life after sport. Some 46% of women professional players are studying for another career, and 67% already have another job.

Italy national-team captain Giorgio Chiellini (in photo and video above) is among footballers who have combined further education with a sports career: Chiellini has a master’s degree in business from Turin University.

As part of the 'Mind the Gap' campaign, we will feature interviews with players and player associations about career transition. They include Dennis Ilionhan, a former Dutch professional footballer who has designed the campaign logo.

Dennis Iliohan 640small

The 'Mind the Gap' partners will create the ideal job specifications of a player development manager (PDM).

These findings, along with other information about 'Mind the Gap', will be published on the FIFPro website in the 'Projects' section.

PDMs will then be appointed at several national football player association. They will receive intensive training and become part of a network sharing best practice.

The ‘Mind the Gap’ partners are from Belgium, Cyprus, France, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the U.K. Aside from national football players associations, the partners include the Irish rugby player association, the U.K.-based Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and the University of Brussels.

Click here for more information about the partners of this project